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Comics A.M. | ‘Momma’ creator Mell Lazarus passes away

Mell Lazarus, left, with Matt Groening in February at the Reuben Awards (courtesy the National Cartoonists Society)

Mell Lazarus, left, with Matt Groening in February at the Reuben Awards (courtesy the National Cartoonists Society)

Passings | Mell Lazarus, creator of the comic strip Momma, died Tuesday at age 89. Lazarus grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and started his career as a professional cartoonist while still in his teens. He worked for Li’l Abner creator Al Capp and also for Toby Press, which was managed by Capp’s brother, and he later turned his experiences in book publishing into a novel, The Boss Is Crazy, Too. He launched Miss Peach in 1957, and it ran till 2002; he started Momma in 1970 and it is still running, although with different creators. At Comic Riffs, Michael Cavna rounds up tributes from Lazarus’s colleagues in the biz and notes that he was an early supporter of creators’ rights. [News From ME]

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Comics A.M. | Mike Mignola named Spectrum Grand Master

mike mignola2

Awards | Hellboy creator Mike Mignola has been named the Grand Master of the 2016 Spectrum Fantastic Art Awards, which honor fantasy, horror and science fiction art. First presented in 1995, the Spectrum Award for Grand Master goes to an artist who was worked at a consistently high level for at least 20 years, and who has influenced and inspired others. Previous honorees include Frank Frazetta, Jean “Moebius” Gerard, H.R. Giger and Ralph McQuarrie. [Spectrum Fantastic Art]

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‘This One Summer’ removed from Minnesota school

this one summer

Mariko and Jillian Tamaki’s award-winning graphic novel This One Summer has been removed from the library of the public school in Henning, Minnesota, which serves grades kindergarten through 12, on the basis of a single complaint.

The American Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Blog reported on the incident, which, ironically, might never have occurred if the book hadn’t won so many awards and garnered such good reviews:

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Comics A.M. | It’s Flash Appreciation Day!

flash appreciation day

From “Justice League Unlimited”

Fandom | Feb. 11 is Flash Appreciation Day, a holiday drawn from the 2006 Justice League Unlimited animated series “Flash and Substance.” Last year, fans petitioned the White House (unsuccessfully), asking President Obama to pay tribute to the Scarlet Speedster. This year, however, they’re marking the occasion with special content spread across nine blogs, and a call for donations to The Hero Initiative. Jim McLauchlin, the organization’s president, participated in an interview and also rounded up creators Mark Waid, George Pérez, Walt Simonson, Dennis O’Niel and Jim Valentino to discuss their favorite versions of The Flash. [Nothing But Comics]

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Comics A.M. | Complete set of Marvel comics sells for $200,000

marvel collection

Retailing | The complete set of Marvel comic books offered for sale by B-Bop Comics of Kansas City has been sold to an anonymous buyer for for the asking price of $200,000. “The first guys who came to look at it bought it,” said B-Bop owner Frank Mangiaracina. [ICv2]

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Comics A.M. | 78-year-old collector has ‘rescued’ 75,000 comics

brown collection

Collecting | For the better part of three decades, 78-year-old Ray Brown has been “rescuing” comic books and giving them a good home — namely, his. The South Dakota man estimates his collection includes some 75,000 comics, the bulk of which he purchased from five Rapid City-area stores that went out of business. “They take up a lot of room,” he says. “They don’t eat anything, though.” Brown doesn’t read them, however; instead he simply takes pleasure in saving them from the trash bin. He does sell a few on the Internet from time to time, but he’s in no hurry to get rid them. [Black Hills Fox]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Asterix’ still reigns supreme in France

Asterix and the Missing Scroll

Asterix and the Missing Scroll

Comics | Wim Lockefeer translates and digests the annual report of the ACBD, the French association of comics journalists, which reveals that Asterix continues to rule the roost: The latest album had a print run of 2.25 million, dwarfing the next largest, Titeuf, with 550,000. Overall, sales are up 3.5 percent, but some of the old standards — like Asterix — are down from their historical peaks. Oh, and relevant to the recent debate involving Angouleme: The report lists about 1,400 active comics creators in France and French-speaking Switzerland and Belgium, of whom only 173 are women. [Forbidden Planet]

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Comics A.M. | Locust Moon to close store, focus on publishing

Locust Moon

Locust Moon

Retailing | The Philadelphia comics and art shop Locust Moon is closing its doors as a retailer so that co-owner Joshua O’Neill can focus on a different area of the business: publishing. “[A]s publishers, we’re just getting started,” O’Neill posted on his Facebook page. “[W]e’ll now be able to focus our attentions on making books full time. we’re incredibly excited about that. locust moon is not dying — it’s still just being born.” Locust Moon has already published an Eisner Award-winning anthology of Little Nemo comics, and is running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the publication of some very early “lost” Will Eisner comics. [PhillyVoice]

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Comics A.M. | SDCC preregistration badge sale arrives Saturday

Comic-Con International

Comic-Con International

Conventions | Although it may seem way too early to begin the countdown to Comic-Con International, badge sales open Saturday at 9 a.m. PT for those who attended the 2015 convention and preregistration (this isn’t the annual mad dash, which arrives in a few months). If you’re eligible, you should receive your registration code by email at least 24 hours before badge sales open. Comic-Con provides a detailed walk-through of the process. [Toucan]

Legal | The Malaysian Federal Court affirmed a lower court’s ruling that the government shouldn’t have banned two books of Zunar’s political cartoons, 1Funny Malaysia and Perak Darul Kartun. “This is a victory for all cartoonists, it tells the Home Ministry and the government that drawing cartoons is not a crime,” Zunar said. He also said the ruling means that the government must also lift bans on all his books and drop sedition charges against him. “Stop raiding this my office, stop harassing my webmaster for selling the books online, and stop raiding and threatening printers and shops involved in the production and sales,” he said. [Malaysyakini]

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Comics A.M. | Malaysian cartoonist challenges nation’s sedition act

Zunar

Zunar

Legal | On the day his trial on sedition charges was due to begin, Malaysian political cartoonist Zunar threw a curve ball, asking the high court to declare the sedition law unconstitutional. The Malaysian government has repeatedly attempted to ban or censor Zunar’s cartoons, but this case actually stems from a series of nine tweets he wrote following the conviction of opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on sodomy charges; Zunar accused the court of following the wishes of the prime minister. On Friday, Zunar’s lawyers (one of whom has also been charged with sedition) filed a petition with the high court saying that the lower court that was to hear the case had no authority to do so. The Malaysian Federal Court recently dismissed a challenge that made a similar argument; Zunar’s case is now scheduled to be heard on Dec. 8, with a decision expected a week later. [Index on Censorship]

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Comics A.M. | Two ‘banned’ Judge Dredd strips to see print again

From the Judge Dredd "Burger Wars" episode

From the Judge Dredd “Burger Wars” episode

Legal | A Judge Dredd comic that makes fun of McDonald’s and Burger King is finally being reprinted in a collection, thanks to a change in the European Copyright Directive, which now allows creators to use copyrighted characters if the intent is clearly parody. In the “Burger Wars” story, first published in 1978, Judge Dredd is captured on a trip to the United States and force-fed fast food; the story includes images of Ronald McDonald and the McDonald’s logo. Another story, “Soul Food,” has a mad scientist creating versions of the Jolly Green Giant and the Michelin Man. Ben Smith of Rebellion Publishing says fans have been asking for years for these story to be reprinted in their collected editions, but they were held back for fear of legal action. When the law was changed, Smith said, they took another look: “It was like a light bulb went on. We thought: ‘Surely this means we can look at Burger Wars?’ We looked into it and here we are. This is straight-out pastiche, parody and arch satire. There didn’t seem any reason not to bring them to the public again.” [The Independent]

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Comics A.M. | Malaysian cartoonist claims Facebook blocked cartoon

Zunar

Zunar

Censorship | Malaysian cartoonist Zunar claims Facebook removed his latest cartoon, which portrays the wife of the Malaysian prime minister as the head of a bank. Zunar, who is awaiting trial on nine counts of sedition stemming from tweets critical of the government, said the cartoon was “blocked” half an hour after he uploaded it, and subsequent efforts to upload the cartoon failed. Several of his Facebook pages display the text but no image, but the entire cartoon is gone from his main fan page. “It is really funny because normally you can re-upload the image with a different file name,” he said. “This seems like a well-executed plan by cybertroopers to block the content.” [The Malaysian Insider]

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Comics A.M. | ‘Real Stuff’ writer Dennis Eichhorn passes away

Dennis Eichhorn (photo by  Matt Crowley)

Dennis Eichhorn (photo by Matt Crowley)

Passings | Underground comics writer Dennis Eichhorn passed away on Oct. 8 at age 70. He’s best known for his autobiographical comic series Real Stuff, which often involved tales of alcohol, sex and drugs. Published from 1990 to 1995 by Fantagraphics, the multiple Eisner-nominated Real Stuff was illustrated by the likes of Lynda Barry, Chester Brown, Peter Kuper, Joe Sacco, Roberta Gregory and Ed Brubaker. [The Stranger]

Legal | Iranian cartoonist Atena Farghadani, already serving a 12-year sentence for a cartoon depicting members of the Iranian parliament with animal heads, and under investigation for shaking hands with her male lawyer, had to endure yet another indignity in August: She was forced to undergo a “forced virginity and pregnancy test” as part of the investigation of the latter charge. “In doing so, the Iranian judicial authorities have truly reached an outrageous low, seeking to exploit the stigma attached to sexual and gender-based violence in order to intimidate, punish or harass her,” said Said Boumedouha of Amnesty International, which is calling for her release. [Amnesty International]

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Comics A.M. | Wizard World reports $1.8 million loss

Wizard World

Wizard World

Conventions | After a profitable 2014, Wizard World Inc. is reporting a $1.8 million loss in the second quarter of 2015 (in contrast to a $760,000 profit during the same period last year), owing much to the rapid increase in the number of conventions it’s producing. However, as ICv2.com notes, the company is also seeing a drop in revenue per show. Wizard World also reports that its inaugural convention in China, held May 30-June 1, “was not as successful as we anticipated.” [ICv2]

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Comics A.M. | Despite ban, ‘Death Note’ is still big in China

Light Yagami, from "Death Note"

Light Yagami, from “Death Note”

Censorship | China may have banned 38 manga and anime series, including Attack on Titan and Death Note, but fans are still finding ways to read and watch them — and Death Note is one of the most popular topics on the social media service Sina Weibo. “Chinese authorities are used to a certain degree of permeability in their various bans and directives,” says Jonathan Clements, author of Anime: A History. “The issue with a lot of Chinese censorship isn’t about a blanket ban that keeps 100% of material out. It’s about making life as difficult as possible for people who actually want it. A ban like this is about restricting casual access.” [BBC News]

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